AC Rant – Can the Dodgers Do A 1988 Repeat?

In the last thread, Tylerdurden31 stated that“If it clear we are one if the best five NL teams. We could be the best right now (even after an abysmal start). Between now and October we will experiment, test, and look for new ways to get production. Occasional failures like today must be tolerated in order to locate the growth potential in our roster. Win games? That’s last year. This year we are searching for The Formula.”   Certainly logical, and something I might have said. For the last few years, the Dodgers have routinely experimented and tested in April and May, especially with the bullpen. By June they were ready to go. In 2016, Joe Blanton started out as the long man, but by June he was the setup guy (and used a lot). In 2017, Brandon Morrow was in OKC to start the year and did not become the setup guy until late June (and used a lot). This year they have already experimented with Baez, Stewart, Alexander, Garcia, Cingrani, Liberatore, Hudson, Chargois, Venditte, Goeddel, Font…and none of them are up to the task. Right now the most reliable is Fields and now he is out. I submit that the reason that Buehler pitched Thursday was because Fields went on the DL, and it was… “Okay let’s see what Buehler can do, because we know none of the others at OKC can get it done.” Buehler as a reliever failed last year. He is a starting pitcher. It takes a different warm up routine to get ready to start than it does for relief. I am sure he can learn to relieve, but do the 2018 Dodgers have that time. Buehler may not be able to get warm in a hurry as is required for relief. Plus he was already in OKC scheduled to start and was then summoned to LA and did not get to LA until Thursday AM for a noon game. And he is called before Ferguson? I think this speaks volumes about what the front office feels about their bullpen.

 

The season is half over after Friday’s game. Why do they still need to experiment? If the Dodgers want to continue to experiment and test in July and August, they may not make the playoffs. I still do not think Kershaw is completely healthy. His fastball is nowhere near it was when he dominated. I did not see the game live, but per Gameday he was relying on his 87-89 MPH slider with an occasional four seamer and curve. Pre 2018 (and in a non-playoff environment), there is no way Addison Russell gets a 2 out single to score Baez in a 2-0 game. The Dodger Ace right now is Ross Stripling and he started out as the long man in the bullpen, and was arguably the most reliable reliever until he joined the rotation. For AZ, Ray and Greinke both just had strong shutout performances in back to back games. Sure it was against the Fish, but then again the Fish beat the Dodgers 4 games to 2. In addition, Corbin is a solid #3, and Godley is a competent #4.

 

I do not get overly concerned about RISP stats. I wish they were better, but the Dodgers have generally relied on pitching and defense to win games. Five runs should be enough runs if there is good pitching and defense. This year they are lacking in both areas. Muncy is not a good defensive 1B. That fourth run does not score with Bellinger at 1B. For all the talk about Puig being a GG, he is a negative RF this year. He has a -1.1 UZR and a -4.1 UZR/150, and a -3.9 dWAR per fangraphs. Neither CT3 nor Kike’ can play SS with Seager. Kemp is not a problem in LF but he is certainly not a GG. Logan is not as dependable at 2B as he was last year.

 

The Dodgers pitching depth has kept them competitive (and FAZ deserves considerable credit for that), but is probably not enough to beat AZ. In addition, the Giants will be getting Cueto and Samardzija back soon. Maybe the LAD starting rotation rounds out by August, but maybe not. Their bullpen is a mess, and can only get better if (BIG IF) the rotation gets healthy and set, which was Mark’s premise and a logical one.

 

Washington is currently behind LA in the wild card race, but they have already shown that they plan to go all in this year. They would be silly not to. They are already over the luxury tax and will be losing multiple FA, so they might as well go for it. And with Scherzer, Strasburg, Gio, and Roark, why not? Murphy is just getting back, and Harper isn’t going to hit .210 all year. If I am Washington, I bite the bullet and move Robles to get Realmuto. That move makes them an immediate considerable favorite to win the NL. They may not have a next year to point to. The Braves, Phillies, and Cardinals are not going away, and all three teams appear to be looking to improve at the deadline and have the prospects and cash to do it. The Brewers are the best team in the NL, and may be getting Jimmy Nelson back. They did not spend $$$ on Cain and prospects for Yelich to stop now. We know the Cubs will play Let’s Make A Deal at the deadline, and while the Cubs may not be better than the Dodgers right now, they are at least equal to them. The Cubs will spend what little they have in prospects to get back to the WS this year.

 

I will give FAZ credit. Nobody has any clue what they are going to do. They keep everything very close to the vest. So maybe they are in on deGrom or some other difference making starter. Maybe they are in on 2 or 3 lockdown late inning high leverage relievers. Maybe they are in on a better offensive 2B. We will know in about a month. But maybe the question should be, will they be buyers or sellers in a month?

 

One final note. I do not blame FAZ or Roberts or anyone else. This all started after Turner went down, and then Seager, and then Kershaw. They lost three other starting pitchers, and really the 5th one should have been on the DL as well. You can always point to games that were mismanaged, but the team plays well for Doc. They are not built to play situational ball that many of us would prefer. They are built for power, and that is exactly how they got back into it. We know Belly is a 30+ HR guy, but is Muncy? Kemp, Kike’, Grandal, and Joc are all in 20+ HR range with Puig and CT3 just outside 20.

 

Maybe Tylerdurden is right and FAZ and Roberts will continue to test and experiment, and ultimately find that winning formula in time. As Dodger fans we all hope they do. I do not believe they can get there with what they have now, and I do believe the other contenders will become buyers. Will the Dodgers spend some of that prospect capital for this year, or just keep holding to stay in contention for the next several years? At some point isn’t appropriate to say “____ it. It’s time to go out and win it this year and not worry about 3 years from now”. They are close enough to make a significant move, but are they willing?

 

 

This article has 33 Comments

  1. I expect FAZ to put a team together every year that is a top 5 favorite to win the World Series and that obviously includes this year.
    .
    Kemp could be traded this off season and Puig will be a free agent after next season and therefore is a candidate to be traded this off season as well. That would still leave a crowded outfield in 2019 with Toles, Pederson, Verdugo, Hernandez, Taylor. Kendell and Peters could also make a bid for 2019. The outfield could be thinned out and still leave the Dodgers with a win now and win every year capability.
    .
    The Dodgers have plenty of pitching and catching prospects that could also be thinned out and still have a win now and win every year strategy.
    .
    The Dodgers are in a payroll position beginning in 2019 to add free agents to again improve their win now and win every year strategy and they can trade for players that are controllable for a few years.
    .
    Choose wisely FAZ.

    1. As AC has stated before, the Farm System is very deep with talented players, but likely few “superstars.” I think FAZ values Verdugo highly and will not trade him. I think Ruiz is in that category too and Buehler is off limits, even in a trade for deGrom. They should be able to land a couple of lockdown relievers with their surplus. I wonder if they are shopping Puig as we speak. Who needs a RF’er? This would likely be a three-way deal with a contender and a rebuilding team that has a closer (Oakland, SD, TB, Cincy, et al). That way Verdugo could go to RF and the Dodgers could have a high OB% player there.

      I also don’t think the bullpen is as bad as we think. Yesterday’s debacle is just fresh in our minds. If Caleb had came in, it may have changed everything.

      1. FAZ experimented with Buehler. If it had worked we would have said “genius”. Since it didn’t – of course they are idiots.

    2. I think Diaz is closer than Peter’s to being ready. I could see him forcing the issue as soon as next year.

  2. Why didn’t he come in? We know Buehler is not a reliever. Ok we give him some work and he blows the lead but why leave him in there to blow the game? Experimenting is just bs the Dodgers know Buehler is not a reliever and if I was playing on this team I would have been irate to just give them the game. Who in the world experiments when you are a team 3+ games behind with Arizona having better pitching. The idea that yesterday’s game doesn’t matter is ridiculous. So after that experiment what do we know that we didn’t know? We are pretty arrogant if we think we can experiment at the major league level. If you are trying to see where pitchers fit that is not experimenting that is evaluating. I’m all for evaluating but not giving games away.

    1. I am not sure who you are directing this too, but I clearly stated above that Buehler should not have come in as a reliever. IMO as late as he got in to LA, I would not have pitched him at all. Buehler proved he was not a reliever last year in LA and in OKC. Ferguson was the logical choice. Maybe he fails as well, but at least he relieved for Kershaw the game before.
      .
      I do not believe it is as much of experimentation as it was…who else? I would never believe that Roberts was looking at this game as a throw away. I truly believe that Roberts thought Buehler was the best option at that time to get a win. He was wrong. S*** happens. To me, the problem wasn’t Buehler, it was that this organization does not have any reliably consistent relievers they can turn to. Already with 7 consecutive games, the team plays 16 more in 17 days with this bullpen.
      .
      I also do not have a problem with experimentation, but it has to stop when the calendar hits June. It has for the last several years. The Dodgers experimented with bringing up Puig on June 3, 2013. It worked. The Dodgers experimented with CT3 last year in April. It worked. The Dodgers have experimented with countless relief options…Joel Peralta, Chris Hatcher, Juan Nicasio, Sergio Santos, Josh Ravin, Danny Coloumbe, Louis Coleman, Mike Bolsinger, Carlos Frias, Casey Fien, Nick Tepesch, Chin-hui Tsao, Sergio Romo…all before they settled on Joe Blanton and Brandon Morrow.
      .
      I do agree at some point you have to say that “we either go with what we have or we go out and get the players”. Maybe one last experiment. Bring up Manny Banuelos and move Wood or Maeda to the pen now. The next 16 games in 17 days will be the season, IMO. If the starters cannot go 6+ IP (or 7+ with a 6 man rotation), and the team has to rely on Garcia, Goeddel, Hudson, Paredes, Alexander, (and OKC) as the bridge to Jansen, I am not sure that it will turn out that well.

      1. I was not directing my post to or at you. I was simply saying that experimenting in a big league game is not acceptable. I believing in evaluating whether a player fits a role or not. I don’t think Roberts was experimenting at all I think he thought Buehler was a winning formula. That says a lot for the lack of confidence in any of the other pitchers. So I reject the idea he was experimenting that is an arrogant position. I was furious because obviously Buehler did not have it a single, double, home run and coughed up the lead but still winnable. If that wasn’t enough though he lets him lose the game before making a move. Buehler just wasn’t ready which ray Charles could see. The original plan was Ferguson. He was rested and did well in New York you got to put him in. We may have lost but at least we would go down trying. Arguably we could have swept but I think madden just outmaneuvered Roberts again.

  3. Excellent point therealten, giving games away due to arrogance is unacceptable. The Cubs, a solid hitting team, took advantage accordingly.

    I understand FAZ does a pretty good job, that being said their philosophy can wear on you. Dumpster diving gets old, tired of being in on every good player under the sun and never acquiring any of them. I think the money costraints are very real and we will only really be in on b level feee agents in the offseason. We will be connected to everyone but that is just a smoke screen to drive up the cost for other teams or agents or other teams connecting us to build value in said player.

    I don’t see us doing anything until the end of the month so we are going to have to continue to get by with the patchwork pen. Hopefully Ferguson becomes what I thought Stewart would become before his velocity dip. Also hope Cingrani gets back early next week, and can stay on the field, he is our 2nd best reliever when healthy. Finally I don’t like the 6 man rotation which further depletes our weak pen unless we start letting our starters go deeper. I doubt Roberts or FAZ will.

  4. The Athletic recently suggested that the Dodgers’ big need is pitching, especially in the ‘pen:

    “Friday will mark this season’s halfway point, and no one has emerged as a reliably great set-up man. Depending on the day, the Dodgers are relying on the likes of Erik Goeddel or Yimi Garcia or Edward Paredes, and that can’t happen come October — if October does come. After tomorrow, the Dodgers will be on pace to win either 86 or 88 games, which probably will not be enough to win the National League West. They must be a bit better to do it.”

    1. Agreed. The team needs 7th inning and 8th inning lights-out relievers more than they need help on offense. The bridge to Kenley needs to be constructed ASAP.

  5. Great post today AC, hats off!

    That was a forgettable game, no one knows if there would be a different outcome if Kersh could have pitched deeper or if Caleb got the call instead of Buehler but it sure turned out badly. Too many games are lost when the outline is drawn up before the first pitch.

    You mentioned the 88 Dodgers and I said something a few days ago that they reminded me of that team. Everyone writes them off but they are a scrappy team with few stars and can get hot and can also go cold. But the bats and usually good starting pitching will win a lot of games and the NL is very average this year. It would not take much tweaking in the bullpen to help a lot and there are plenty of prospects either blocked, better as a DH or stalled with potential to get it done.

    The Cubs match up well with the Blue and play with hunger. The Rocks and Bucs will be an easier test for the next 6 games. The wild card is there for the taking and it seems only a matter of time before the Nats and Cubs pass the Braves and Brewers, time will tell. The Snakes will take some catching but a good pennant race sets you up for the playoffs so it is not a bad thing. Chasing them probably drags the team to at least a WC.

  6. It seems like the major needs for the Dodgers changes week to week. Shortstop to 2nd baseman to Starter to the pen. I was also very disappointed yesterday when Walker was left in the game after the Cubs had come back to tie it up. I guess I’m not sure who I would have preferred to see but poor Walker just couldn’t throw a pitch by a Cub hitter. Stevie Wonder could have seen that. Hoping we can bounce back today.

  7. I was thinking about another positive that came out of this series, with the Cubs.

    The Cubs really didn’t do much against our starting pitching, they mainly got most of their runs, off our bullpen.

    And Buehler is not one of our bullpen pitchers, because he was just doing a rehab start yesterday, so I wouldn’t worry about any of the runs, that were scored off Buehler yesterday.

    Because remember it did take Maeda a few starts, to get back to where he was, and Buehler was out even longer, then Maeda was.

    AC You know I respect you a lot, but I have never talked about Puig’s defense this year, except that I expect him to still practice the fundamentals of the game.

    Because I don’t give him an excuse like some about this, because I don’t think it is a lot, to expect that from Puig.

    Because like I already said, I think he needs practice the fundamentals of the game in every game, so he will do it, in important games.

    I only said his offensive numbers have not been that bad in the last couple months, and that is true.

    I did have reservations about Muncy at the beginning, just like everyone else, but I have not said we should trade Muncy, like some, because he doesn’t have a true defensive position, on this team.

    And even though Muncy is not a good defensive first baseman, we are actually stronger up the middle on defense, when Muncy is playing first base.

    Because Cody is such a good athlete, he is the best centerfielder on this team now, that Taylor is only playing short.

    Of course I love Cody at first, but Roberts has to keep Muncy in the line up, with the way he has performed, on offense.

    Muncy is he type of player that I root for, because he did put in the hard work in the off season, to improve his game.

    And he has played his way on this team, and he has went much beyond that now, because he is not only tops in OPS on this team like you said, he is right after Kemp in average, on this team right now.

    And I have given credit to Joc, for changing his approach, and for what he has done, because that is what I wanted him to do, for a while now, and I think that includes everything one here, too.

    But some people were also getting down on Cody too, and that is why I posted his recent numbers.

    I also backed Bum when he said, the power would come after the contact, and the average, with Joc.

    But I also know that Joc can be a very streaky hitter, and all players numbers can change very quickly in baseball.

    We can be lauding one player in one moment, and complaining about another player in the next moment, and the tables could change, and change very quickly, even in a couple of weeks.

    And that is why it is good to show some patience in baseball, but it is hard for some, if their favorite player isn’t performing like they want, and I understand that.

    And Hawkeye has always been good to me, so I just wanted to support him, and he has actually been more patient with Joc, then I have, in the past.

  8. What about Hernandez the regular 2nd baseman? Hitting .345 last 16 games. Ops 1.128. Regular playing time means something, nice call Timmons.
    Forsythe late inning defensive replacement, maybe Utley goes and Verdugo up since Hernandez would be out of OF mix, who says no?

  9. Against lefties:
    SS Taylor
    3B Turner
    LF Kemp
    RF Hernandez
    1B Muncy
    2B Forsythe
    CF Bellinger
    C Barnes
    .
    Against Righties
    CF Pederson
    2B Muncy
    3B Turner
    1B Bellinger
    LF Kemp
    SS Taylor
    RF Puig
    C Grandal

  10. OK, I didn’t have time to research this earlier, but here’s why I don’t think things are as dire as some of you do:

    June ERA’s:

    Hudson – 0.69
    Liberatore – 1.80
    Baez – 1.80
    Jansen – 2.03
    Fields – 2.35
    Alexander – 3.77 (1.08 in May)

    Forget their season ERA’s. Some are figuring it out. Then, if you add Maeda, Buehler and Urias to the pen? Well who knows? That said, it’s still take a Lockdown Reliever any day… at the right price.

    1. I prefer to monitor WHIP for relief pitchers:
      .
      June WHIP
      .
      Hudson – 1.308
      Liberatore – 1.800
      Baez – 1.200
      Fields – 0.932
      Alexander – 1.256
      .
      Let’s look at the June numbers for 2 middle relievers I know are being discussed in trade rumors, and one I would hope for:
      .
      Kirby Yates (SD) – 11 Games – 13.0 IP – ERA 0.00 – WHIP 0.692
      Drew Steckenrider (Mia) – 13 Games – 11.1 IP – ERA 0.00 – 0.971 WHIP
      Ryne Stanek (TB) – 11 Games – 14.2 IP – ERA 0.00 – 0.750 WHIP (Not on any trade rumors list that I know of).
      .
      I like the 0.00 ERA’s much more, and 2 are being discussed; by who nobody is talking, but I am sure that at least Houston and Cleveland are definitely in on the discussions.
      .
      Closers for late innings that are being discussed in trade rumors:
      .
      Kyle Barraclough (Mia) – 10 Games – 10 IP – ERA 0.00 – 0.100 WHIP (0 hits, 1 BB) – 6 saves
      Blake Treinen (Oak) – 10 Games – 12.1 IP – 0.74 ERA – 0.583 WHIP – 7 saves – 2 wins
      .
      Compare to Kenley: 12 Games – 13.1 IP – ERA 2.03 – 0.827 WHIP – 9 saves
      .
      I did not include Brad Hand because there is no possible way the Pads would trade him to LAD.
      .
      Forget Machado, get 1 of Barraclough or Treinen, and 2 of Yates, Steckenrider, and Stanek. Keep Jansen. Everybody else is eligible for trade or option. I have no idea what it would take or what the $$$ situation would be. However, I have confidence that FAZ are smart guys and can figure that out.
      .
      Just like Brock Stewart is not a starter, Walker Buehler is not a reliever. He can learn, but why?
      .
      We have no idea whether the Dodgers can count on Urias at all for 2018. Actually the same is true for Ryu.
      .
      I have now seen multiple reports that believe the Dodgers are indeed talking to Oakland not only about Treinen, but also about Jed Lowrie.

  11. DODGERS OPTION WALKER BUEHLER

    LOS ANGELES
    – The Los Angeles Dodgers today optioned right-handed pitcher Walker Buehler to Single-A Rancho Cucamonga.

    Buehler pitched 1.0 inning of relief in yesterday’s game against the Cubs, where he allowed five runs on five hits. The Lexington, Kentucky native missed 16 games due to a right rib microfracture, and in 10 games (nine starts) this season, he has posted a 3.44 ERA (20 ER/52.1 IP), 1.05 WHIP and a .222 opponents’ average.

      1. I totally agree with you Charley Steiner voice is so lazy the game is slow as it is and with Charlie calling the game with that lazy voice make the game even longer

  12. Dodgers have to do something about rally killer Logan Forsythe. I don’t see the point of playing him, I really don’t.

    Kike as full time 2B is OK if they have someone else to play Swiss Army Knife.

    Utley is just taking up space on the roster too.

  13. Another great at bat by Forsythe. There is always hope Wilmer font just beat the world champions today. Pat valaika batting .118 homers for Colorado. Btw if fields is our 8 th inning guy we aren’t going anywhere anyway. No matter what happens in la the dbacks or giants will lose tonight.

    1. I’m so done with Forsythe. I wasn’t a huge fan of getting him but figured he would at least come back to his career avgs and be a gamer. I agree about Fields. Never thought of him as the 8th inning guy so I found it funny to see him referred as the 8th inning guy recently.

  14. I’ve got to admit that I’m still ticked about using yesterday’s game like a ST game. Kershaw could have been given one more. After Buehler was teed off on his first inning then get him out. He had no business being out there in the first place but sending him out for a second inning infuriating.

    1. Our bullpen is just horrid! In yesterday’s game not only did he leave Buehler in long enough to blow it he then used up Ferguson for today’s game. After watching this horrid pen I can’t wait to see Baez back. I don’t know what has happened to Garcia but he is good for at least a home run a game. The giants will pull within one of us after tonight. On another matter turner might as well go on the dl he is not himself. No clutch no hit right now and if he gets a hit it is a single. A shame but he is not himself.

  15. Like the guy from The Athletic said, if you are still going with the likes of Yimi Garcia forget about playing baseball in October.

Comments are closed.